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further measures must be introduced. Certainly, the introduction of Conservation Areas should augment the States’ power to control development and alterations in sensitive historic places.
The integrity of St Helier’s historic built environment has been slowly eroded since the end of the Occupation, though over the past fifty years the pace and magnitude of the changes has not been consistent. For example, in the 1960s and ‘70s, the programmes of urban renewal swept away many old streets and traditional neighbourhoods, whereas in recent years the losses have been much more incremental. Still, the cumulative effect of minor alterations, let alone the outright demolition and replacement of historic buildings, has greatly diluted the original character of many parts of St Helier. Most worrying, however, is the fact that the Town’s historic character is still under threat despite four decades having passed since conservation was first enshrined in Jersey’s planning legislation. Although it could be stated that the Town’s built heritage was not sufficiently protected by the 1964 Island Planning Law, as many ancient buildings (eg Hue and Dumaresq Streets) were summarily demolished over the subsequent two decades, since the passing of the 1987 and 2002 Island Plans there have been great strides forward in the statutory regard for historic buildings. The question remains, however, whether enough is being done to restrict the demolition of serviceable historic buildings or stem the gradual loss of original architectural details and elements of historic fabric. The onus to maintain and repair St Helier’s historic buildings is, of course, the responsibility of the private property owner. The reasons for the decline in the integrity of historical properties might include the following: • • • • • Lack of awareness/concern/appreciation amongst owners Difficulty in obtaining technical information, guidance and advice Ill-judged attempts to improve/modernise properties Poor or non-existent maintenance; wilful neglect Lack of incentives to conserve/restore
derelict building in Clarence Road
In addition, although the States’ Department of Planning & Building Services has worked hard within its remit and available resources to improve stewardship of St Helier’s historic built environment, it may be the case that the present regime of statutory controls is inadequate for the task at hand and that in order to prevent the continued erosion of the Town’s character,
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Historic buildings and streets provide the context in which we live, work and play. These urban spaces are a record of the lives of previous generations, and they are the foundations to be bequeathed to generations to come. Of course, the historic built environment is not static, it is evolutionary, with every generation taking the burden the responsibility of maintaining the best of the old whilst creating new and complementary buildings of quality to be enjoyed in the future. But why conserve relics of the past? What is the value of retaining the buildings and urban spaces of those gone before us? Much of the postwar period has seen the ebb and flow of conflict between the two schools of thought: those who view the historic built environment as something worth saving, and those believing it to be an obstacle to progress. Naturally, there have always been extremists on either side of the debate, either wishing to preserve everything at all costs or to comprehensively redevelop without restriction.
St Helier’s Masonic Temple is a prominent local landmark
Fortunately, in recent years there has been a softening of attitudes at the extremes and an increasing amount of pragmatism and compromise. Much of this softening of attitudes has been the result of more detailed analysis of the economic value of conservation as well as a greater understanding of people’s intuitive appreciation of the historic built environment. Importantly, there has also been increasing evidence of how older properties can be reused and adapted to suit modern day needs. 2.1 Cultural Capital
The economics of conservation has become increasingly tangible as new studies over the past decade are starting to show that (public and private) investment in the historic built environment is earning profitable returns. What is most interesting, however, is the fact that studies also show that such investment is reaping cultural rewards as well, not only enhancing the environment but also improving the quality of people’s lives. The regeneration of older buildings has led to the revitalisation of neighbourhoods and communities which previously had little hope for the future. Throughout the UK, it has been shown that attractive, successful and eminently liveable places are often those with a long history and a distinctive character. Historic buildings contribute much of that character,evoking a sense of continuity and of quality. As a source of memory and continuity, the built heritage plays a critical role in the cultural identity of a population. One’s “sense of place” depends greatly on one’s surroundings, and if this local environment is visually stimulating and well respected it will also engender civic pride. With such pride in the community there is likely to be social cohesion within it as well. The cultural capital of the historic built environment is not just about buildings — it has as much to do with the people who come into contact with them. The historic environment is a ‘public good’ in the sense that everyone is able to derive benefit from a handsome, well-kept building or street even if they do not directly pay for it. Well maintained historic streets and town centres add vitality to a community, engaging both local residents and visitors, and attracting people to shops, restaurants and other local businesses. An attractive, diverse, vibrant and creative local culture can lift people’s aspirations. Several recent studies in the UK have quantified people’s views on the role of the historic built environment in their lives and communities. In 2003, English Heritage published Heritage Counts, a review of both the cultural and economic value of its investment in regeneration schemes across England. More recently, a House
poll. a “period terraced house” was viewed favourably by 69% of respondents. A survey by MORI of London residents suggested that the most popular choice of residence was a “pre-war semi-detached house” for which 70% of respondents expressed a preference. Only 4% saw it as a ‘very bad’ thing. A poll undertaken by MORI in 2003 in three distinct parts of the country (Bradford.” OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| Historic buildings can serve a variety of public uses of Commons Committee published a lengthy report entitled The Role of Historic Buildings in Urban Regeneration. the landscapes.” At the bottom of the scale were flats in tower blocks. whilst 61% would also desire a “flat in a converted historic building. but their destruction could have severe negative effects on morale. but also coveted them to a certain degree.ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL 2000 agreed that their lives are richer for having the opportunity to visit and see examples of the UK’s built heritage. Both documents underline the contribution made by conservation projects in improving the physical and social well-being of communities in decline. MORI “surveyed owners and residents of registered buildings to gauge their enthusiasm for living in a historic property. and therefore no responsibility for. Of the 300 people questioned. some 76% of respondents to a MORI poll in 181 . people surveyed not only appreciated the old buildings around them. In the same. Yet this perception of “heritage” was not restricted to visitor attractions such as stately homes and cathedrals. Recent polls have also confirmed that people understand the intrinsic value of protecting old buildings. 85% of residents in Bradford and 82% of London residents either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement “the heritage in my local area is worth saving. Some 91% of residents in Cornwall. Cornwall and west London) showed a high level of interest in the conservation of their local areas. their local environment. Heritage Counts provided ample evidence that old streets and buildings are appreciated by the population at large by quoting numerous opinion polls.” Interestingly. the Civic Trust made the case that not only was the presence of historic buildings of great cultural value to a local community.2 Public Opinion Whereas the Commons report focused primarily on the economic value of regenerating the urban environment. which only attracted a positive reaction from 10% of the Londoners polled.” that is. When the public feel that the local authority are demolishing loved local buildings it engenders a “feeling of powerlessness” in that the redevelopment process has no public involvement or support. The report pointed out that there is a growing recognition that heritage can be something that is “all around us. 60% said that. the listing of their property was a ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’ thing. streets and houses in which we live.” A 2000 MORI poll of 3000 people in England found that 87% believed that the historic environment “plays an important part in the cultural life of the country” and 76% think “their own lives are richer for having the opportunity to visit or see it. According to Heritage Counts. 2.” In its evidence to the Commons Committee earlier this year. For example. taking everything into account. Thus a frustrated and indifferent population begin to feel it is pointless to vote and “that they have no control over.
the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors commented: “There is often a win / win situation where keeping the best of the old and introducing high quality. when these small businesses are located in a densely populated town such as St Helier. thus minimising the need to travel. Members of the Commons committee investigating the role of conservation in the regeneration of urban areas acknowledged that there was “overwhelming evidence” that historic buildings played a crucial role in reinvigorating neighbourhoods. and are concerned when it is neglected. over the past two decades registered offices in the UK achieved higher total returns than non-registered offices. and that sympathetic development of such buildings can be of benefit to both the building and the area. it cannot be denied that the historic environment is a hugely significant economic asset.” The committee also concluded that a pragmatic. Given the popularity and desirability of older properties. indicating that “there is a prestige value to registered buildings. Although it may be intuitive that public support for the built heritage stems from the sheer visual pleasure of its architectural or historic character. but also that conservation is far more sustainable than demolition and new construction. New uses should be allowed in the buildings and sensitive adaptations facilitated. mixed-use developments are often the mainstay of regeneration schemes in In its evidence to the Commons Committee. and their repair and reuse helped “to boost the local economy.3 The Economics of Conservation It has been stated above that people value the historic environment. The intrinsic nature of historic properties can also have advantages in terms of enhancing economic vitality. rather than a purist. when sensitively converted. According to research undertaken by the Investment Property Databank. In addition.4 Value of Historic Buildings Older properties are eminently suitable for small businesses inherent in the traditional building stock. conservation-led projects often build on the quality 182 | . In fact. when the original use of a historic building is no longer relevant or viable. approach to conservation was most beneficial in regeneration work. a MORI survey noted in Heritage Counts found that a pre-1919 house is worth on average some 20% more than an equivalent house of a more recent vintage.” create jobs and achieve “a better use of natural resources. Such positive popular views on old buildings. It is not a simple exercise to determine the benefit deriving from the historic environment and express it in monetary terms. Regenerators need to appreciate the value that historic buildings can represent.” The “value” suggested by the RICS can be interpreted in many ways. relics of a bygone age. are well suited to house the small and medium-sized companies that are seen as the engine of a growing economy. Many older properties lend themselves to creative and stylish conversions. there has been an increasing amount of data showing not only the positive effects of conserving (and reusing) old buildings in the economic regeneration of declining urban areas. reporting that historic buildings “should not be retained as artefacts. there are great opportunities for people to work in close proximity to their homes. Many old buildings in urban settings. First of all. derive enormous benefits and satisfaction from it. enabling contemporary design solutions deftly blending the old with the new. This “small business incubation” is often driven by design-based firms seeking distinctive premises. it has been determined that offices in registered buildings in the UK tend to have higher rents. and it follows that its direct benefits — and the return on investment in conservation — can be measured and assessed in the same way as other aspects of the economy. can achieve the best result for regeneration (and sustainability) and the historic environment. must be judged alongside the economic equations. sensitive new development.2. In recent years. however.” 2.” Similarly.
000 per 100m2 cheaper to maintain and inhabit on average each year than a property from the 1980s. research from the US indicates that investment in building rehabilitation — as opposed to general industrial investment — “delivers far higher incomes. New research undertaken for Heritage Counts used sophisticated methodologies to analyse the relative whole-life costs of older buildings compared with more modern housing. Construction OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 183 . contrary to earlier thinking. conservation is eminently sustainable — both in terms of financial investment and in the best use of natural resources. “the research demonstrated that. even if they did not come to London specifically for the purpose. 79% of all overseas visitors went to a historic building while they were there. More recently. 2.7 Cost Effectiveness In addition to the value of conservation in terms of small business growth. a 2002 visitor survey of Scotland indicated that 82% of respondents claimed that “history and heritage” was either “very” or “quite” important in their decision to visit the country. If a town has an attractive built environment — as St Helier certainly does — it should strive to develop its distinctiveness. quantity surveyors and mechanical and electrical engineers projected the maintenance costs of each house over a 100-year period and costs were calculated on a like-for-like replacement or repair basis. According to the Commons evidence of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL the UK. The five main areas of maintenance assessed were: • decoration • fabric maintenance • services maintenance • utility costs • insurance According to Heritage Counts. tourism and general prosperity. 2. The Heritage Counts report dispels the myth that older properties are more costly to maintain over time. Largely due to the quality and life-span of the materials used. the Victorian house proved almost £1. A team of architects. there is another important reason why the reuse of historic properties makes good economic sense. in terms of heritage-based tourism and money spent particularly in historic environment attractions. It also showed that. a 1920s house and one built in the 1980s. By definition. A 1995 survey showed that 54% of overseas visitors cited historic buildings as one of the things that encouraged them to visit London. older housing actually costs less to maintain and occupy over the longterm life of the dwelling than more modern housing. which is matched by vast amounts of expenditure in the wider economy. St Helier has a rich variety of historic properties It has long been recognised that a majority of tourists visiting the UK do so because of its history.5 Tourism Maximising the potential of historic areas derives other economic benefits as well. The study compared three houses of a similar size in the Manchester area: one Victorian building.” Cities and towns wishing to reinvigorate the tourist trade need to emphasise their unique selling point: what makes them distinctive and different from competing tourist destinations. a lot more jobs on average.
00 1920s House: £3.that home over 30 years was in the region of £64.00 Over and above the question of simple maintenance. In order to combat the local authority’s plans to compulsorily purchase extensive numbers of Victorian terraced houses in Nelson.” At the public inquiry. The conservation.112. “the surveyors found that. the annual maintenance and occupancy costs per 100m2 of internal floor area were shown to be: Victorian House: £2. there is now solid evidence that refurbishment is more cost effective than demolition and reconstruction. poorer quality softwood windows and PVCu rainwater goods typically used on 1980s dwellings. According to Heritage Counts. “a virtuous cycle of improvement.00 1980s House: £3. And it is this long view that is frequently mentioned in current studies of successful regeneration. Hopefully. replacing it with a newly built home and maintaining 184 | .” Overall. Therefore. in the words of English Heritage. such activity can spark.600 while a more substantial refurbishment cost something in the region of £38.000. these findings were instrumental in the rejection of the local authority’s redevelopment plans and thus much of the historic building stock was saved from demolition. By contrast. Rather. repair and maintenance of older properties is never a quick fix or a fast return.500. quality softwood double hung sash windows and cast iron rainwater goods fared much better than the concrete tile roofs. it can safely be claimed that conservation of well-built historic properties offers value for money over the long term. it is an investment requiring both vision and patience. the cost of repairing a typical Victorian terraced home in Nelson was some £24.” Historic properties can be the focus for successful regeneration Traditional buildings provide prestigious addresses features such as a slate roof. on the basis of repair cost projections stretching over 30 years.648. Lancashire — and replace them with new-build houses — English Heritage engaged quantity surveyors to compare the relative costs of repair/improvement and demolition/rebuilding. conversion. and an investment capable of sending out strong signals to other property owners and investors that the area is a good bet.686. the cost of demolishing one of these houses.
The truth is that it is hard economics. 2003 English Heritage. testified at a public inquiry into Glasgow’s road expansion plans that the importance of conservation must be recognised. worth staying in. the UK Government’s Performance and Innovation Unit report. stated that “energy is consumed in the production of construction materials such as bricks.. The Role of Historic Buildings in Urban Regeneration.” There are undoubtedly ways in which the production of construction materials can be made more efficient — and more environmentally sustainable — but short of augmenting industrial regulations a far simpler method to combat such waste is to recycle not only building products but also the buildings themselves. Local Government and the Regions Committee.8 Environmental Sustainability The sustainability of historic buildings must also be viewed in the context of the local and global environment. Demolition and construction already account for 24% of established total annual waste in the UK. House of Commons. and despite several years since the institution of a landfill tax. you conserve the gross capital value.” 1995. Your conserve their OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 185 .9 Conclusion investment and you conserve that city’s attraction to the outside world. Resource Productivity: Making More with Less. 1996 English Heritage. The Heritage Dividend. and this should not simply be wasted in the drive for new homes. State of the Historic Environment Report.10 References Dept of National Heritage. Conservation provides benefits ranging from civic pride and social cohesiveness to job creation and environmental sustainability. Section 1. Esher argued. Yet each year some 70 million tonnes of construction and demolition materials and soil end up as waste. 1999 The character of St Helier owes much to its historic built environment It is clear that the conservation of historic buildings makes good cultural and economic sense. Few industries are as energy-intensive as the construction industry. The current building stock represents in itself a substantial investment of capital and energy. More than thirty years ago. Conservation-led Regeneration.. offices and shops. “you do not merely protect old buildings and give them a new lease on life. cement and metals and in their distribution. the eminent architect and town planner. worth seeing. 2004 Performance and Innovations Unit (UK Cabinet Office). 1999 English Heritage. For example. Heritage Counts. Over 90% of non-energy minerals extracted in Great Britain are used to supply the construction industry with materials. The West End Conservation Manual.” 2. Resource Productivity: Making More With Less (2000). 2. It has taken several decades for these truisms to work their way to the forefront of government thinking. These are inevitable but vital economic factors. Planning. If a solution to the proposed devastation of the historic environment could be found. The Value of Conservation?. there is little evidence that this waste mountain has been reduced. Lord Esher. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing. but many in the field have been arguing the case for many years..” Summing up his testimony. Towards an Urban Renaissance.0 “Principle & Practice. It becomes a place worth visiting. and a remarkable amount of waste is also generated by the building trades. English Heritage and the RICS. They are not sentimental factors. The energy produced from non-renewable sources consumed in building services accounts for about half of the UK’s emissions of carbon dioxide. but you conserve more than buildings. Power of Place. 2002 English Heritage. 2000 Urban Task Force. the late Lord Esher concluded that “conservation is often thought of as just a fad of a few. You conserve the investment that previous owners have put into a city in which they believed and on which they thought it was worthwhile to spend their money. 2000 English Heritage. 1998 Glasgow West Conservation Trust.ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL 2.
even many fine interwar [1919-40] buildings have also been altered in some way. are the buildings that suffer from multiple negative interventions. removed or replaced.3. filigree bargeboards and glazed cheeks Chimneys — cement rendering.1 • • • Roofs Coverings — replacement of original pantiles or slates with flat concrete tiles or manmade slate Roofline. truncating or removal of patterned brick stacks. More common. formation of bulky mansard extensions Dormers — Removal of traditional Jersey dormers such as cubical Georgian and decorative Victorian dormers. that is. historic fabric in St Helier’s building stock is great. or simply neglected and left to decay. The main alterations to the traditional fabric of St Helier’s historic building stock may be generalised as follows: 3. Thus. loss of original details like timber finials. boxy modern dormers. • • and replacement with outsized. the number of traditional (ie pre-1914) properties still wholly intact is certainly small. and are otherwise unmarred. structure — alteration of pitch to accommodate extra attic space. Regrettably. Loss of Original Fabric The scale of the loss of original. or their shutters removed. perhaps. Some houses may have simply had their front doors replaced. removal of terra cotta pots Drainage goods — replacement of cast iron and lead items with uPVC above: clumsy mansard in Seale Street below left : chaotically altered roofscape in Aquila Road below right: boxy dormers spoiling classical grace of Chevalier Road 186 | . properties that have had several original features altered.
decorative horns. manufactured either in timber or uPVC. and bereft of traditional detailing and ironmongery.ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL right: traditional Jersey windows in Regent Road below left. replacement of multipaned sashes with single panes of plate glass. uPVC) • Shutters — often partially or completely removed across a facade.2 Windows and Doors • Windows — removal of sliding sash windows with original (some specific to Jersey) details such as grooved central astragals. much to the detriment of the building’s unity of design (presumably partial removal indicates separate owners in a subdivided house) • Doors and door surrounds — replacement of original timber panelled doors (that are appropriate in style with the doorcase and house) with unsympathetic generic doors from builders’ merchants. alterations to fanlights and transoms often incur the loss of decorative glass and other features OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 187 . replacement of traditional timber sashes and boxes with unsympathetic materials and methods of opening (most notably tilt/turn windows manufactured in aluminium or most commonly. right: fine door surrounds dimished by inappropriate modern doors in Great Union Road 3. crown or cylinder glass.
above left: partly reglazed house in St Mark’s Road above right: PVC door and windows in Great Union Road below left: PVC tilting windows (plus dormers) in Belmont Road below centre: neglected traditional sash & case in Poonah Road below right : mixed loss of original features in Douro Terrace 188 | .
ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL above: mooted but inharmonious colours in West Park Avenue below: dominant blue in a pastel New Street block above: overwhelming trim colour in Chevalier Road below: traditional hues in Roseville Street? OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 189 .
loss of decorative detail Paint Colours — incoherent array of painted facades. railings and green space of front gardens in favour of paved car park area. tasteless combinations of clashing and inappropriately bright colours. TV antennas — cluttering of roofscape with 3. thus “hardening” the environs. apparent lack of historical provenance for colour selection.3 • Decoration and Ornamentation Render (stucco or cement) — removal of render and exposure of brick or rubble walls beneath. Other Fabric Problems Shop and bar fronts — alteration or removal of original material (doors. fascias etc Satellite dishes. poor quality repairs in mild steel Awnings/canopies. porches — alteration or complete removal of important decorative features Setting Front gardens of individual houses — removal of boundary wall. reducing wildlife habitats etc. crescents — destruction of communal pleasure grounds/formal carriage drives to setpiece terraces. railings. loss of trees and other greenery. either between neighbours or on an individual building • Loss of stucco in a Georgian terrace in Bond Street A formal.4 • • 3. signage) and replacement with generic fit-out with oversized glazed areas.3. windows. gates. balconies.5 • • 190 | . loss of green interface between building and street diminishes the amenity of the wider area. installation of garage or house extension to front of house Settings of formal terraces. exacerbating street noise. verdant setting is lacking in St Mark’s Road • • Ironwork — removal or neglect of cast/wrought iron cresting. dominated by magnolia and similar bland treatments. thus destroying the original composition and character of the historic architecture.
and it is important that such protection is not only afforded to St Helier’s commercial centre and salubrious streets but to the outlying neighbourhoods as well. These unregistered buildings.ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL excessive numbers of dishes and antennas (most common in subdivided properties) • removal of inappropriate alterations to chimneys Whereas the fabric of Sites of Special Interest. OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 191 . there is a social or cultural value to the properties that might not justify registration on pure architectural or historical grounds but should still ensure a degree of statutory protection. many humble and unsophisticated. form an important backdrop for St Helier’s finer architecture and thus. Buildings at Risk left: the Assembly Rooms in Belmont Place below left: Sussex House in Clarence Road awaiting demolition below right: typical building at risk. as many of these “lesser” buildings are found in areas originally established as working class neighbourhoods. as a group. make an invaluable contribution to the wider townscape. Don Road Assessing the current state of abandoned. Also. The designation of Conservation Areas is an important way in which the greater townscape can be protected. 4. proposed SSIs and Buildings of Local Interest are at present protected by statute. neglected properties is always difficult within the period of a limited study. derelict. there are sizable numbers of older properties whose character is being destroyed by unsympathetic repairs and alterations to the above features.
appear to be the subjects of proposals currently in the planning system.for the status of such buildings is often quite fluid. conversion of the existing fabric should always be encouraged (rather than demolition). These small workshop buildings. Minden Place and Victoria Street. are an integral part of St Helier’s historic built environment and should be preserved. the humble workshops are also seen in prominent streets such as Gas Place. Some buildings (namely Sussex House in Clarence Road) are apparently destined to be demolished.” upon investigation. others have been converted to other commercial uses (eg retailing) or have been converted into residences. above: undervalued workshop property in Brighton Road left: old workshop in Nelson Avenue provides flexible space below: granite-built works in Wesley Street and provide a sharp contrast to the orderly details and classical refinement of so much of the town’s residential properties. St Helier has — relative to the UK — a noticeably large number of fine buildings built between the wars in Art Deco. Perhaps the most common building groups that might be considered to be “at risk” are interwar structures (often motorcar garages) and traditional workshops. Retaining such mixed use sites are crucial to the town’s economy and vitality. Art Moderne and . These utilitarian structures — both the streamline Moderne buildings and the vernacular asymmetrical workshops — add immense character to St Helier. Many of these premises still retain their original use. whereas others. often standing in isolation amongst residential properties. are in a parlous state and need urgent stabilisation. If residential redevelopment 192 | of the site is the expressed intention of the owner. such as small residential properties in Aquila and Great Union Roads. Usually tucked in back lanes and in minor side streets. Many sites recorded during recent fieldwork as being a “Building at Risk. and reuse for commercial (ie light industrial) purposes should always be the preferred option.
” At present. Apparently. Many are under threat due to development pressure (Le Sueur’s) or simple neglect (Arrow Insurance in Hill Street. there is a vast amount of the Town’s architectural character at risk of irreparable damage or OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 193 . In common parlance.ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL early International Style. its architectural and historical integrity has thus been so compromised that perhaps it too could classified as being as a “building at risk. opposite Halkett Place) and thus are at risk of demolition. On the other hand. Many such buildings are actually most in need of a sympathetic. redundancy or outright dereliction. if a structure is physically sound. “buildings at risk” are those under threat of demolition due to severe decay. imaginative and resourceful owner. with so many older properties in St Helier lying outwith the protection of the Register of Buildings and Sites. but it has lost so many historic features that little or none of the original character survives. Unfortunately. Any losses of this unusual collection of buildings would severely impact upon above: handsome. well-proportioned interwar offices in Hill Street above left: Le Sueur garage in La Motte Street below left: elegant corner garage in Le Greve d’Azette the breadth of St Helier’s architectural patrimony. in the wrong hands a perfectly viable building can be neglected to a point where demolition is the only alternative. A reassessment of these interwar structures should be made — based on a thorough survey and academic appraisal — with a view to adding them to the Register of Buildings and Sites. Many are humble garages (eg Le Sueur’s in Colomberie/Hilgrove Street). “Greencourt” in Green Street). few structures of this period are Registered Buildings (eg Collins Office Products on the corner of Don Road and Frances Street.
it is a maxim in the conservation field that there is no such thing as a “problem building. For example. interim policies for the conservation of historic buildings 1998) have been invaluable tools for the States’ efforts in preserving fine examples of St Helier’s historic built environment.2 above: rotten timber eaves in Chevalier Road below: partly maintained double portico in Clarence Road An understanding of good conservation practice Familiarity with sources of technical advice An understanding of the economic value of heritage (eg financial and material sustainability) Appreciation of the intrinsic value of investing in high quality repairs and maintenance Statutory Controls Successive improvements to the statutory protection of Jersey’s historic buildings (1964 Planning Law.outright loss. • 194 | Can the designation of Sites of Special Interest be . 4. In essence. it is advisable not only to adopt a combination of controls and incentives. 1987 Island Plan.1 Objectives Education The obvious objective of any conservation initiative is the improvement in the standard of repair and maintenance of the older building stock. 4. these statutory mechanisms are undoubtedly effective. Similar training must also be available to contractors and tradesmen in order to ensure that repairs are undertaken to the highest standard.” Therefore. After all. but there must also be present a certain level of understanding on behalf of the property owners. Again. 2002 Island Plan. In order to achieve and maintain good stewardship of the historic built environment. 1992 Register of Buildings and Sites. The education of building owners (and leaseholders) is not. the importance of thorough Conservation Area designation cannot be overemphasized. an end in itself. Together with the 1997 Historic Building Repair Grant scheme.” there are only “problem owners. the education of building owners is paramount if high standards of repair and maintenance are to be achieved and sustained. however. though one might question whether there is any scope for modest improvements in the system. the objectives of any public educational campaigns should include the following: • • Greater appreciation of and sympathy for St Helier’s built heritage Awareness of the cultural value of the historic built environment • • • • 4.
have encouraged many building owners in St Helier to reinstate like with like rather than replace their original timber sash windows. accessible and handsomely produced document combining detailed technical and planning information. A History of Timber Windows and External Doors in Jersey. it is only the removal of permitted development rights within designated Conservation Areas that will ensure that the integrity of these buildings is preserved and the character of the whole of St Helier is not further diluted. smaller CAs for specific areas(eg commercial centre.ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL • • • • streamlined (so that pSSIs are processed more efficiently)? Should more BLIs be upgraded to SSI status (for enhanced protection and maximum grant eligibiilty)? Should the Historic Building Repair Grant scheme be augmented/extended? Should the propsed Conservation Area only include the medieval core of the Town. Technical education can be undertaken in a variety of ways. Promotion of better stewardship through education The key to improving the repair and maintenance of historic properties is education. and if only a single. Once property owners. removal or replacement. Certainly. David Place The number of Registered buildings in St Helier is limited. NE New Town)? 5. large Conservation Area cover most of St Helier? Should there be several. many “minor” buildings. leaseholders and contractors are empowered with appropriate information on the value of conservation and its practical application. along with its partner brochure. this document.2. northeast and Havre-des-Pas). The States might wish to consider extending the range of such policy documents to include other historic building features (as outlined above) which are at risk of alteration. 5. is a cogent. or should a single. Havre-des-Pas. Unless these lesser buildings are Registered. Traditional Timber Windows and Doors. or a series of separate areas each with its own identity but enjoying equal protection. streets and neighbourhoods are suffering irreparable damage to their character due to a lack of statutory protection. the Department of Planning & Building Services’ 1999 policy statement. single conservation area across the Town (incorporating the commercial centre and residential districts of the northwest. At present. much of the late 19th-century town outwith the retail/commercial core would remain unprotected. In addition to the dissemination of technical information through a series of free leaflets. In order to ensure a degree of protection for these unregistered buildings. a case may be made for the designation of either a larger. there might be a case made for the commissioning of a definitive conservation/restoration/ OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 195 .1 Proposals Protection of unregistered buildings/extension of Conservation Areas poor maintenance leading to loss of original fabric. then part of the battle can be considered to be won. Apparently. NW New Town. central Conservation Area is designated (as proposed in the 2002 Island Plan). 5.
but might also feature public debates on contemporary design. perhaps modelled on the Care and Conservation of Georgian Houses published by the erstwhile Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee. providing a clear image of the Town buildings prior to the gradual decline of its architectural integrity in the later 20th century.repairs and “improvements. which need not focus solely on historic buildings. There is undoubtedly a great wealth of historic photographs of St Helier. 196 | Initiatives to celebrate St Helier’s historic architecture — publications. whilst the Historic Buildings Section of the Department of Planning & Building Services has a sizable archive of survey photographs from the 1960s and ‘70s.” maintenance guide for St Helier’s historic architecture. the Glasgow West Conservation Manual. Apparently there is considerable academic and practical knowledge of Jersey’s built heritage amongst local professionals and lay experts. competitions or consultations. and little of specific interest to the owner/restorer of the island’s historic properties since Joan Stevens’ two volumes of Old Jersey Houses were published in the 1980s. there is an absence of published technical material on St Helier’s architecture or buildings. These and other collections are invaluable as a record of the traditional appearance of buildings in the Town prior to the postwar regime of alterations. The establishment of an annual Architecture Festival. numerous publications from Bath etc (there being many models in the UK and abroad). but comparatively little has been published in recent years. . Certainly. The collections of the Société Jersiaise contain vast amounts of 19th and early 20th views. lectures. walking tours — could be instrumental in improving standards of maintenance and repair. exhibitions.
Such an annual programme of events sponsored throughout the UK each November by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. owners could be prevailed upon to improve their properties by: • • using traditional.ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL could be geared to attract a cross section of the community. In addition to using publications to disseminate information. historically accurate paint colours to decorate facades harmonising paint colours across a terrace or semi- detached houses OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 197 . and perhaps certain incentives. libraries.3 Proactive campaigns to reinstate lost character Whilst it is of crucial importance to control the incremental loss of traditional features and the unsympathetic alteration of the historic building stock. all have a role to play in promoting St Helier’s built heritage. it is perhaps of equal importance to promote the reinstatement of these elements that contribute so much to the character of St Helier. best practice in building maintenance. Annual events such as Doors Open Day. attract a wide variety of lay people into buildings — old and new — not generally open to the public. but amenity and professional bodies. the States could undertake proactive campaigns to promote minor improvements — some merely cosmetic — to historic properties with a view to enhancing the public faces of these buildings. for example. the appearance of the townscape as a whole. Uncoordinated finishes in Roseville Street 5. To complement its encouragement of best practice in repair and maintenance. local media. in turn. It would probably be difficult for the States to undertake a wide ranging campaign of conservation education on its own. Such events may start up slowly. but can grow steadily over the years with appropriate support from public bodies and private institutions. With appropriate technical guidance. A series of classes or seminars could be instituted as a part of a maintenance week. more direct methods could be used such as specialist masterclasses for building contractors and practical demonstrations for building owners. There may be scope for a joint effort — perhaps under the auspices of the Jersey Heritage Trust — to co-ordinate campaigns that promote. and. learned societies. held throughout the UK since the early 1990s. acting together with the States.
. dormer trim. ironwork. particularly when a communal effort amongst neighbours.above: this Green Street name plaque would be improved by a single colour below: a good name plaque let down by wall colours. The greater the appreciation for the aesthetic value of the property. decorative chimney pots. awnings. the greater the likelihood that the building will be appropriately maintained. Clairvale Road above: an expertly detailed name plaque in Rouge Bouillon below: applied lettering obscured by drainpipes in Le Dicq Road • • • • • 198 | “picking out” or polychroming ornamental details (eg stucco. mature planting which complement the buildings) rationalising the parking areas in front of major terraces to limit the paved area and reduce the visual impact of the cars on the appearance of the building Enhancing the appearance of one’s property. and pride in ownership is a cornerstone of good conservation practice. carved timberwork) “picking out” stucco name plaques of set-piece terraces and other formal developments (for aesthetic purposes and to enhance local awareness of building provenance/history) encouraging the common use of traditional terrace or building names reinstating ornamental details (eg window shutters. canopies) rejuvenating formal settings: reinstating trees and other • plantings in private or communal gardens (particularly important for set-piece terraces — Royal Crescent in Don Road and Don Terrace in Clarence Rd are examples of good. cast iron crestings. can contribute to rare feelings of civic pride.
ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL above: parking in terrace garden in Clarence Road left: planting for the future in St Mark’s Road below: a sterile front in St Mark’s Road OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 199 .
Grant schemes demand high standards (which. It is often difficult for statutory authorities to encourage building owners and contractors to “do the right thing. but increasingly. a 2001 survey by the Scottish Civic Trust of over 1000 people found that 95% of respondents believed that the protection of Scotland’s historic built environment is important. town or neighbourhoods. the States of Jersey took the first steps in establishing its Historic Building Repair Grant scheme. If the use of statutory controls is the proverbial stick of the conservation world. a percentage is handled above: state of near delapidation in Upper King’ s Cliff below: sadly neglected terrace in Great Union Road by small charitable trusts established (in partnership with local authorities) in specific districts.4. English Heritage awarded over £39m in grants (out of an agency budget of £115m) and Historic Scotland distributed £11.” especially when the economic value of a high quality (and long lasting) repair is not readily obvious to them. then grant funding may be considered to be the carrot. According to a recent English Heritage survey. 200 | . In 2002-03. and 88% agreed that public money should be spent preserving this heritage.4 Enhance grant programme In most instances. the scheme was originally targeted at Sites of Special Interest (including proposed SSIs) with grants amounting to 40% of the grant-eligble cost (maximum of £10. In 1995. perhaps. The discretionary use of public funding promotes best practice in a pro-active way by enabling appropriate high quality materials and superior workmanship. Grants to BLIs are appropriately smaller (30% of eligible costs. Launched in 1997. central government in the UK has made grant funding available for the repair and restoration of historic buildings. gardens and townscapes.000). for example. of course. the cost of undertaking appropriate and sympathetic repairs to the fabric of historic properties is more expensive than the use of modern alternatives. must be met if grant is to be paid) and thus fosters improved skills in the building trade. Encouragingly. For more than fifty years. is the wider public benefit gained through the use of grant funding as the visual amenity of a street or neighbourhood is enhanced by the reinstatement or repair of the traditional features of a town’s historic buildings.5m out of its total outgoings of £53m. Most grants are distributed directly by these executive agencies (and their counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland). 87% of a sample of 3000 people in England agreed that public funds should be used to preserve the historic built environment. the scheme was expanded in 2002 to include Buildings of Local Interest (the largest proportion of Registered buildings in Jersey). Similarly. Equally important.
labour comprises some 70% of budget costs (as opposed to the 30% used for materials).ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL repairs and maintenance creates more sustainable employment than new-build construction. Certainly. Such an equation. cast iron features. the architectural. Of course. investment in heritage should be seen as an investment in Jersey’s infrastructure. should also be given serious consideration. There is undoubtedly a case to be made to increase the availablity of grant assistance in St Helier for the repair and restoration of external fabric of traditional buildings. and fifteen years in Glasgow. At present. it is inevitable that awards must be kept small in order to distribute the grants over such a wide area. and are only applicable to the exteriors of buildings whereas SSI grants may also cover special internal features. but the feasibility of establishing a charitable trust. with money staying in the local economy as wages rather leaving the island in terms of imported materials. for every £1 spent on their grant funded repair schemes. as much work needs to be done to halt the incremental loss of architectural character throughout the Town. With this level of funding. above: cosmetic as well as structural problems in Le Dicq Road below: lack of simple maintenance could cause major problems.29m in 2002/3 and the fledgling City Heritage Trusts (in Inverness. ornamental dormers etc. being less reliant on one-off major projects. there might also be scope for special themed campaigns to tackle certain troublesome issues such as the restoration of terrace gardens. it might be necessary to raise levels of grant. in addition to standard works such as the repairs of traditional doors and windows.£400. Even in times of economic instability. the bodies represented by the Jersey Heritage Advisory Panel.000 in the upcoming fiscal year). By comparison. Conservation work is generally more consistent. English Heritage also states that spending on OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 201 . in 2004/5 the Glasgow Conservation Trust West distributed c. In order to address certain problems or special sites. interestingly.000 (with the possibility of a reduction to £60. the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust spent £1.000 per annum for an initial period of three years. Historic Scotland has committed itself to expand its grant-making facilities through local agents in another four cities. Aberdeen and Stirling) have been provided with grant budgets amounting to £200. If increased capital funding were available. According to English Heritage. Whether an enhanced grant scheme could be handled within the limited resources of the Department of Planning & Building Services would require further examination. along the lines of the models mentioned above.500). working of course in conjunction with the States.000 last year (95% coming from from Historic Scotland). Hill Street with a maximum of £7. for an island such as Jersey. demographic and socio-economic profiles of St Helier/Jersey and these Scottish cities are not strictly comparable. Dundee. but it is interesting to note the levels of funding that have been made available and also that after thirty-four years of trust-based grant schemes in Edinburgh. the annual budget for the entire island amounts to £75. another £5 is raised through private and public sources. should be welcomed. with their many years of experience on heritage issues. should be well placed to support such a new organisation. and.
5. there must be a concerted effort on behalf of all parties to address the issues of quality. which has Scotland’s highest concentration of let properties and Houses in Multiple Occupancy (ie bedsits). there is the political will to alter the demographic profile of St Helier. and below (left to right): Don Road. as seen above: Victoria Street. Val Plaisant. in other words. and financial incentives. If the States desire an active. How the States might attract more owneroccupiers into St Helier (obviously at the expense of absentee landlords) is an open question. It is obviously outwith the remit or power of the Historic Buildings Section to manage ownership patterns in the Town. however. St Helier’s built heritage positively enhances one’s impressions of the town. socially and in townscape terms.5 Promote increased owner-occupation in the Town On balance. and if St Helier is to reach its potenital economically. As stated above. whereas absentee landlords in an buoyant rental market generally regard their properties as short-term sources of ready income and thus pay little heed to long-term maintenance requirements. let alone improve the lot of the Town’s architectural heritage. Roseville Street 202 | . then the quality of life in St Helier should also improve. demonstrates that owner-occupiers generally maintain the buildings and gardens with a view to enhancing their investment. there must be a seismic shift in attitude among owners of historic properties. Recent research in the West End of Glasgow. a certain degree of change can be undertaken through controls. but it is worthwhile to consider that if high standards of repair and maintenance are to be achieved. owner-occupiers tend to take better care of their properties than do absentee landlords. education. and sustained. vibrant and attractive town. If the quality of the built environment is upgraded. to attract more “stakeholding” owners who will take pride in the care and condition of their buildings — and seek to enhance their investment — it will continue to be an uphill struggle to maintain the status quo. Unless.
Oxford Road above: Havre-des-Pas houses in mint condition.ST HELIER URBAN CHARACTER APPRAISAL above: well kept buildings exude confidence and civic pride. La Route du Fort OCTOBER 2005 | WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN| 203 . Queen’s Road below: one of the town’s small gems. Victoria Street below: typical home in private ownership.
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